Before hole #17 at the Masters Saturday, I was ready to coronate Jordan Spieth with the coveted Green Jacket. He had been masterful up to that point. I had a special tweet prepared and ready to send, although history has taught us not to be premature.
With an impressive 7 shot lead going into those final two holes, all he needed were pars on both and the 2015 Masters was essentially his. At worst, he would have had a 6 shot lead going into Sunday, which is ideal for a young man in search of his first Major. If so, I wouldn't have worried about a similar ‘6 shot lead’ collapse that Greg Norman displayed in 1986.
It was Spieth’s first ‘moment of truth’ at Augusta at #17. I expected his nerves to show and he didn’t disappoint. He stumbled badly throughout the hole, missing what should have been an easy bogey for him, and carded a double bogey. Instantly, that 7 shot lead was down to 5.
He made a valiant effort on #18, with a great chip shot, to save par and probably put his mind at ease somewhat going into the final round. Justin Rose birdied hole #18, so Spieth's lead for Sunday was only 4.
Patterns are important in most facets of life and here are Spieth’s:
-- Round 1 – 64
-- Round 2 – 66 (36 hole scoring record)
-- Round 3 – 70 (54 hold scoring record)
-- Round 4 -- ?
Yes, he’s gone downhill each day, but he has set two Masters records in the process. He should feel good, but those final holes on Saturday have to linger in his young mind. Instead of slamming the door shut on Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose, he left it half open.
To be fair, he’s only 21. His success on the PGA tour thus far has been spectacular for someone his age. These three days at Augusta will only be a footnote though, unless he wins today.
I don’t think he will. Here are a few reasons why:
1) Phil Mickelson is a difficult 5 shots back, but has won the Masters three times, and has five Majors in total. That comfort of knowing how to close at Augusta will be invaluable. Look for Phil to be one of the last men standing.
2) Justin Rose has been super on the back 9 holes at Augusta. He should be at ease as well, despite never winning here. The comfort of having won a Major already should make him an aggressive player today. Since he is paired with Spieth, that intensity may be a distraction.
3) Tiger Woods and Rory Mcllroy play two groups behind Spieth and they have nothing to lose. Woods is legendary and Rory is on that path with multiple Majors already, so they should attack the course fiercely. The roars from their crowds could be another distraction.
4) Spieth would still be in college if he didn’t turn professional and this type of Sunday pressure is tough for anyone with a three day lead, including seasoned veterans. How will he handle the challenge? And let’s not forget Rory’s choke in the 2011 Masters at a similar age.
5) No guts, No glory – Will Spieth have the guts to not ‘play if safe’ by hoping that a round of even par (72) will bring him Masters Glory? He should be aggressive and go after the gold.
6) The Golfing Gods can be incredibly cruel at Augusta. Ask Chris Demarco (2005) or Rocko Mediate (2008) or Len Mattiace (2003) or Ray Floyd (1990) or Hubert Green (1978) or Ed Sneed (1978) or Scott Hoch (1989).
With all the aforementioned potential disruptor's, the best Spieth can hope for is even par (72) in my opinion. That could be enough to win, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Here’s the tweet I have waiting:
With Michael Jordan, they said “Be Like Mike”
There’s a new Jordan in town, his name is Jordan Spieth.
“Be Like Spieth”
I hope Jordan Spieth proves me wrong, as I would like to see him win and send that tweet.
Enjoy what should be another great Masters finish. I’m excited.
Happy Gswede Sunday!
|One of many fun golfing days in Sweden|